Photos and Features
Unlike the E5, E3, and E1 the X7 isn’t a portable device. It is just a little under 6 inches wide, 6 inches deep, and 6 inches tall. What is weird about it was the decision to go with a unique shape. Pulling back from my geometry days, the X7 is an irregular convex hexagon. Most equipment like this would be boxy and boring, the X7 is none of that. Officially they sell it in two different models, today I’m taking a look at the standard version but word is I will hopefully be revisiting the limited edition in the future as well. Basically the limited edition is white and has a higher wattage output thanks to the high-power power adapter (that also works on the regular X7).
Starting at the front of the X7 there is a lot going on. The biggest and most obvious feature is the large aluminum volume control up top. They trimmed it out in gold and if you press it in it also mutes everything. Just below the volume knob is a wide vent, they is actually for the built in array microphone. The E5 had a few small microphones built in but the X7 really steps things up with two beamforming microphones. They added this along with their CrystalVoice technology to allow for VOIP calls and teleconferencing without having to dig out a headset. There are also a few connections up front. On the left is a microphone connection and then the other two plugs are both for headphones. One is a normal 3.5mm connection like you would find on a laptop or mobile device and the other is a larger ¼ inch plug that you sometimes find on higher end audio equipment and headphones. Just above the headphone jacks are also a few buttons as well. The button on the left will turn the X7 on and off and also is used during bluetooth setup and the right turns SBX on and off. They both light up when active and the power button switches to blue when looking for bluetooth devices.
Moving around to the left side of the X7 there isn’t all that much going on here. You have the Sound Blaster X7 logo up on the top section and then tucked up under the edge is a USB port. This is a USB Host port to pull the audio that you are playing on your phone or other device directly on to the X7. It also helps keep that device charged as well.
The back of the X7 is where most of the action is. Starting up top there is a large vented area to let some of the heat out from the built in amp. Then below that we have all of our connections. In the center are the left and right side screw on gold plated speaker connections. Just to the left of that is the impedance switch for the speakers and to the right is the power plug. Down in the bottom right is the micro USB port, this is what you hook the X7 up to your PC or MAC with. Then you have optical in and out ports, this opens up audio options for a lot of gaming systems and also is a great way to integrate your PC audio in with a full stereo or home theater as well. Then you have RCA connections for a line in and a line out and rear and sub connections in the 3.mm format.
I mentioned earlier that the X7 has bluetooth, well on the right side above the logo they have slipped in an NFC reader to make syncing your device as quick as possible.
The bottom of the X7 has four small rubber feet and then a removable cover. When we pull the cover off we can see a little of what makes the X7 tick, specifically its high end caps. More importantly though the panel gives us full access to the four OP-AMPs. They are actually pairs, two are I/V Converters (dual op-amps) and the other two are Differential to Single-Ended Converters (single op-amps). Replacing the OP-AMPs can change the tonal characteristics of the X7. Creative went with New Japan Radio NJM2114D’s on the dual op-amps and Texas Instruments LME49710 on the single op-amps.
One of the most interesting features about the X7 to me is the optional integrated headphone stand. This is a great way to be able to keep your headphones safe and out of the way without taking up any additional space on your desktop. The mount slides into the back and is very solid. The wire hanger does not have any padding up top though and the wire design will most likely push into your headphones padding more than some other hangers.
When I dug into the packaging the box of all of the cables that come with the X7 can be a little overwhelming but when you split it up it all makes more sense. A large portion of the cables are all adapter cables for the power adapter, giving you hookups for just about any international location. They did include a few other cables as well though. For starters we get a five-foot-long USB to micro USB cable. They also slipped in an RCA to 2.5mm jack adapter cable and also a 2.5mm male to RCA cable that is perfect for hooking up sub to the X7. That cable was of especially good quality with the metal ends on the RCA side.
Before moving on to the E-MU XM7’s I did want to touch on the E-MU branding. E-MU started back in the 70’s as a synthesizer and MIDI keyboard company but was picked up in the late 90’s by Creative Labs. For the most part this has been a professional focused brand of Creative Labs with the exception some high end wood based audiophile headphones. The E-MU XM7’s are marketed on the official Creative Labs website unlike all of their other professional products and they are obviously designed specifically for use with the X7’s. At first glance they are a fairly normal pair of bookshelf speakers and are available in both black and in a lighter oak.
The front grill has a standard black mesh with the E-MU branding down at the bottom.
Looking down from the top we can better see the actual shape of the XM7’s. They look like standard rectangle book shelve speakers but the sides have a little shape to them on the front and back edges.
The back of the speaker has a vent up top in the center. Below that is a black sticker that shows the model name, that the speakers are made in China, and the wattage and impedance of the speakers (60 watts and 8 Ohms). Just below that are two screw down wire crimps with gold plating on the main studs and a transparent plastic on the screw down portion. This helps to make sure you have a good connection.
The bottom of the XM7’s has that same unique shape and to keep the speakers from sliding around the bottom also has four round rubber feet.
As expected for a proper speaker, the front grill is removable with a light pull to give us access to the speakers themselves.
I found it very interesting that they also put another E-MU logo down at the bottom of the speaker in the same location as the one on the grill but the most important thing here are the speakers themselves. The woofer is 5 inches in size and Creative lists it as a special combination diaphragm with oversized magnetic structure and shielding. What I noticed was the rubber surround and a very gloss black dustcap.
Up top we have a one-inch silk dome tweeter with a metallic like finish. If you look close you can even see me taking the photo.